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Death and Justice: How Capital Punishment Affirms Life

Illinois has released 13 prisoners from death row since 1987 in part because of efforts by some Northwestern University journalism students.

Governor Ryan was supported in this decision by religious broadcaster Pat Robertson who, though a defender of capital punishment in the past, surprised everyone by agreeing that a moratorium was appropriate at the time because the death penalty is administered in a way that discriminates against minorities and poor people (Page 63). The Death Penalty Information Center lists several polls which have shown declining support for the death penalty. This is thought to coincide with a deepening mistrust of government programs, and cynicism about the government's ability to do anything right. Since the death penalty was reinstated by the Supreme Court in 1976, there have been about 620 executions (152 of those in Texas while George W. Bush was governor), and 87 condemned persons exonerated with new evidence. Yet Bush still takes the pose that he knows for a fact that his state has not executed anyone for a crime they did not commit.

The governor of Virginia proclaimed that 'in every Virginia execution since 1982, the prisoner's guilt either has been undisputed or conclusively established' (Page 63). Yet a study by the American Civil Liberties Union found that lawyers representing death row inmates in Virginia were more likely to be disbarred or disciplined than other lawyers, and in one in 10 trials that ended in a death sentence, the defendant was represented by a lawyer who would later lose his license. Some judges in Virginia continue to appoint lawyers in capital cases who were criticized by federal judges in other death penalty cases. In a hotly disputed case in Virginia in 1997, Joseph Roger O'Dell was executed for the rape and murder of a waitress despite his persistent claims of innocence. Even though there was a strong possibility that DNA evidence could prove his claim, the ...

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Death and Justice: How Capital Punishment Affirms Life. (1969, December 31). In Retrieved 07:52, September 19, 2017, from
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